In another turn of events in the fight for Net Neutrality – Frontier Communications claims that Senate Bill 822 will give companies like Netflix and Google Free Internet access and is urging its employees to write to Governor Brown and request he vetos SB822.
The fact is that SB822 only strengthens consumer laws and only benefits consumers. It aim to stop the usual ISP shenanigans like network overselling, throttling traffic and mining customer traffic – see our article on Net Neutrality.
This is Frontier’s proposed letter to Governor Brown:
Dear Governor Brown:
Re: SB 822 — OPPOSE
As an employee of Frontier Communications, I write to respectfully request you veto Senate Bill 822 (Wiener).
Frontier Communications supports an open Internet where providers do not block, throttle, or interfere with customers’ ability to access and navigate the Internet. However, this overreaching bill threatens to establish new unnecessary and harmful regulation that will create significant new costs for consumers, hinder network investment and delay Frontier’s hard work to help close the Digital Divide in California.
I am proud to work at Frontier and help operate a network that is part of an incredibly successful Internet ecosystem that is the backbone of our economy and daily life. Frontier invests significant resources nationally and statewide to provide broadband, voice, and video services to our customers.
I oppose SB 822 because it will harm consumers and impose complex layers of costly regulation. This will deter investment and delay broadband deployment in California, especially in rural areas that still lack high-speed Internet access.
Moreover, SB 822 will essentially create “free” Internet for big users of bandwidth like Netflix and Google, but increase costs for consumers and decrease investment that creates good jobs.
California can lead the nation in many ways but should not impose costly and burdensome state regulation on an interstate service.
I respectfully ask you to veto this bill that is bad for all Californians.
What a load of codswallop!
Net Neutrality has nothing to do with this. Frontier’s position on this matter shows a fundamental lack of understanding on how the Internet really works.
In its most simplified form, the Internet has four distinct components:
End users pay Access Networks (like Yomura Fiber, Frontier, Comcast) for Internet access.
Access Networks, in turn, pay Transport Networks (like Zayo, Level 3, GTT, Telia) to transport data to/from Content Providers.
Content Providers pay Transport Networks to carry traffic to/from Access Networks.
(There are exceptions here – for example peering and Access Networks who are also Transport Networks but that’s outside the scope of this discussion, it only makes Frontier’s claims even more nonsensicle).
Analysis of the Claim
SB 822 will essentially create “free” Internet for big users of bandwidth like Netflix and Google, but increase costs for consumers and decrease investment that creates good jobs.
Almost all large Content Providers will try to connect their infrastructure directly to the Access Networks. Companies like Netflix go as far as placing servers in the Access Network’s datacentres just to reduce costs over the Transport Networks for them and the Access Providers.
Netflix states this at https://openconnect.netflix.com/en/appliances-overview/
Open Connect Appliances (OCAs) have the following characteristics:
Are provided free of charge to qualifying partners
Our appliances are provided free of charge for ISP partners who meet our basic requirements, but they are not for sale to other parties.
CDN’s like Akamai have similar programs.
Settlement-Free Peering is where two networks agree to interconnect and not charge each other for the traffic passed between them. This can either be done as a dedicated connection between the networks or at a peering exchange point. This is usually done between two networks exchanging similar traffic volumes or between Access Networks and Content Providers. The net benefit is that both networks save money by directly passing traffic rather than using a transport network.
Most large Content Providers also offer Settlement-Free Peering to Access Networks but a new tactic by Access Networks is to charge Content Providers for peering.
Companies like Yomura Fiber openly peer with all Content Providers. This is enshrined in our Net Neutrality Policy:
Content providers are permitted to peer with Yomura Fiber’s network at any public Internet exchange or with private interconnect without charge.
In essence, Settlement-Free Peering removes the Transport Network’s cost for the Access Network, reduces latency and should reduce the chances of congestion. Its a win for both the Access Network and the Content Provider.
So why would SB822 increase costs?
It won’t, it’s a scare tactic. Some ISPs don’t want Net Neutrality reinstated because it removes their ability to charge Content Providers for fast lanes or slow down competing services to entice customers to use theirs.